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Leicestershire Paediatric Consultant takes on Channel Swim Challenge for vital charity

Leicestershire Paediatric Consultant takes on Channel Swim Challenge for vital charity

Driven by her passion to help save young lives, a Leicestershire-based dedicated NHS consultant will attempt to complete one of the most gruelling feats of human endeavour when she swims the English Channel in aid of the Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA).

Dr. Claire Westrope (48) – a Consultant PICU and ECMO Intensivist and Lead Consultant, at Leicester Children’s Hospital – will take on an epic swim as one of seven swimmers who make up the Doctor and the Medic Dolphins Team.

The team will gather on the Dover shores next week, and will be called upon anytime between 10-14 June, joining a further two teams, in the charity challenge to navigate the 22.5-mile stretch as a relay – in an effort to raise vital funds for the lifesaving Children’s Air Ambulance.

The Children’s Air Ambulance is a national service that is changing the face of paediatric and neonatal care through the high-speed transfer of critically ill babies and children – flying them from one hospital to another for specialist care.

Two clinically designed helicopters, based at Oxford and Doncaster, provide flying intensive care units and work with 10 NHS paediatric retrieval teams across the UK. If a child is too sick to fly, then the Children’s Air Ambulance can fly a specialist team directly to them.

The partnership between specialist NHS teams, like Leicester’s world-renowned ECMO service, and the Children’s Air Ambulance charity continues to provide world-class care to the sickest patients at the Heart Link ECMO Centre in Leicester.

“As a consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, I have worked with TCAA for several years. I was involved in the interior and stretcher design for the AgustaWestland 169 and use this amazing service to transport poorly children long distances, to and from our intensive care unit,” says Claire.

“More recently we have worked together to develop an addition to the stretcher that will allow us to move critically ill children on ECMO (Extra Corporeal Life Support), a form of temporary heart and lung bypass – which gives the sickest children all over the UK the ability be placed on ECMO and/or moved to specialist ECMO units in a safe and timely manner,” she adds.

Starting her open water swimming journey just three years ago, and despite working tirelessly on the frontline throughout the pandemic, with the added lockdowns affecting her training schedule, Claire has passed her assessment swim and is looking forward to the challenge ahead for a cause she truly believes in – and needs the public’s support to help spur her on.

“Open water swimming is one of my favourite things to do now and living in Warwickshire, so far from the sea, this Children’s Air Ambulance event seemed like an amazing opportunity to broaden my swim horizons, get over my fear of jellyfish and do something truly exciting for a wonderful cause!” Says Claire.

Claire will become part of a worldwide “family” of people who have conquered the famed stretch of water, home to the world’s busiest shipping lanes, but more than that she will help to keep families together through supporting the critical work of the national Children’s Air Ambulance.

On behalf of TCAA Special Events team, Hannah Jack says:

“We’re delighted to have Claire on our Dr and The Medic Dolphins Team to take on the Channel Swim relay challenge.

“Claire’s work in developing our new ECMO functionality has advanced our Children’s Air Ambulance service tremendously, and she’s been able to see first-hand how our helicopter transfers really do save lives.

“We’d like to thank Claire for all of her efforts with training and fundraising so far, all whilst working hard in Paediatric Intensive Care. She’s a great addition to our team and we’re looking forward to reaching France with her next week!”

To support Claire and the rest of the Team on this challenge, please click here.